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Griggs Thomas

From Mallala
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Fast Facts
Type of person Individual
Date of birth
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Place of birth Watton, Norfolk, England
Date of arrival
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Principal occupation Builder
Date of death
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The date "c.1918" was not understood.

Thomas Griggs was bom at Watton, in Norfolk, England, in 1840, and came to Australia in 1861. His uncle, who came to Australia in 1849, had written seeking one of the family to come out to him, and being the eldest he was chosen to go.

In the Advertiser of 1917, where Thomas recalled his life, he says 'All was excitement when the morning came for me to go away. Mother was persuaded to stay in bed lest the strain should be too much for her and lead to a breakdown, thus preventing my departure. My father came with me to Gravesend, a distance of about 90 miles, and put me on board the Orient, under Captain Lawrence, and bade me goodbye. That was the last I ever saw of my native land and the first time I had seen a sailing ship....We arrived at Port Adelaide, after a passage of about 79 days. I drove in a bullock wagon with my uncle to McLaren Vale....'

He spent only a short while with his uncle, before returning to Adelaide where he had various positions, including coachman for Bishop Short, and then coachman and butler for Dean Farrell. After a short stint working in the farms at Reedbeds, he started building contracting, his first job being the building of a bridge over the Onkaparinga River at Noarlunga, otherwise known as the Horseshoe. His next contract was for the Willaston bridge, near Gawler, followed by the Experimental Farm, Roseworthy. He then went to Lower Light, and, in addition to the carpentering and building trades, took charge of the Lower Light general post office from 1869-1876.

He then relocated to Mallala, where he stayed for about 20 years, during which time he is said to have erected most of the principal buildings in the township, including the Mallala Institute, and the Mallala Post Office. He also constructed the public schools and residence at Lower Light, Long Plains, Wildhorse Plains, and Owen, a Wesleyan Church at Port Wakefield, and a residence at Kapunda for Sir Jenkin Coles. While in Mallala he served terms as councillor for the District of Grace, and was also treasurer of the Dublin and Mallala annual shows.

Thomas left Mallala around 1895, because 'Mallala became very dull and slack, and I decided to come to Adelaide, where I started contracting'. Some of these later projects included the transept of the St. Augustine's Church (Unley), the director's residence in the Zoological Gardens, the new stores of the Cooperative Society in Angas Street, the new Parafield Cemetery buildings, and the Halifax Street Methodist Church.


  • The Advertiser. Adelaide. Friday 6 April 1917
thomas griggs
thomas griggs

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